Aidan O’Brien opened his Royal Ascot account for 2018 when dominating the Group 2 Queen’s Vase on the second day of the meeting.
Not alone did the Ballydoyle handler win the race with Kew Gardens (100/30) but he also took second and third places as well with Southern France (9/2) and Nelson (9/2) respectively.
Kew Gardens, a son of Galileo, who finished ninth in the Investec Derby at Epsom in early June, made steady headway in the home straight to take the lead entering the final furlong and ran on strongly to score decisively by four and a half lengths under Ryan Moore, with a neck separating the other two O’Brien-trained runners.
O’Brien, who was winning his 62nd Royal Ascot race, said of his winner Kew Gardens:
“We always thought Kew Gardens would stay, and he loves fast ground. We were very happy with him all the time and, even though he was a bit disappointing in Epsom [he was ninth of 12 in the Derby], we have been very happy with him since then.”
Commenting on his two placed horses, the Ballydoyle trainer said:
“I am delighted with the other two. It was Nelson’s first run back for a long time while Southern France is still a big baby who is going to improve a lot as the year goes on. We thought all three would stay beyond a mile and a half – that’s what they are bred to do, really.”
Kew Gardens could now head for an end-of-season Classic run following his emphatic win today.
Discussing possible races later in the season for Kew Gardens, O’Brien stated:
“Kew Gardens can do a lot things. He can go back for the Irish Derby or have a little rest and be trained for the St Leger. The St Leger is a long way away but in the autumn it would be a lovely race for him. But he came out of Epsom very well and if he comes out of this as well, he could well go for the Irish Derby; it’s always a race we consider with these horses. We’ll see how he is.”
The Group 1 William Hill St Leger, over the same one mile and six furlong distance as the Queen’s Vase, would be a logical target for the horse, with bookmakers making the Aidan O’Brien colt 5/1 favourite for the final Classic of the season.
3.05pm Queen’s Vase (Group 2)
1 Kew Gardens (Derrick Smith, Sue Magnier & Michael Tabor) Aidan O’Brien & Ryan Moore 100/30
2 Southern France (Derrick Smith, Sue Magnier & Michael Tabor) Aidan O’Brien & Séamie Heffernan 9/2
3 Nelson (Sue Magnier, Michael Tabor & Derrick Smith) Aidan O’Brien & Donnacha O’Brien 9/2
5/2 fav Stream Of Stars (7th)